Am I crazy? (Questions, self-doubt, looking for reassurance)

Jen2massage

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Hi everyone!
First a little background: We have 2 resident cats, semi-feral orange tabby girl approx 7 years old- Sherbert, and a 3 year old tux male found as a kitten- Kubo. They get along beautifully! I feel like the luckiest cat mom in the world with these 2. Fast forward to 3 months ago when boyfriend met a shelter kitty, Mochi, female tuxedo apron 3 1/2 years old.

Long story short, it's been a long 3 months! We're doing screen door feedings, scent swaps, room swaps, etc.. We've had some bad run ins between all of them. Shelter kitty Mochi is extremely territorial and will attack resident cats just because she can. So of course, resident cats are scared of her! I feel like every time a bad run-in happens, its like taking another step back. Kubo will growl even if I just pick him up and carry him anywhere near Mochis room. I should also add that Mochi, 3 1/2, has been in 3 different shelters in her short life (through no fault of her own), and I feel pretty confident saying she's spent over a year of her life living in a cage. We understand this and are trying to be patient, taking things very slow. She has calmed down immensely in these 3 months and she really is the sweetest cat! I walk into her room and she wraps her tail around my left, rubs up against me, she snuggles up between my legs when I sleep with her. She is SO sweet! She just doesn't deal well with other cats.

Well, I was talking with an old co-worker that I haven't seen in ages who is also a cat mom. She has maybe 7 or 8 resident cats and she also fosters. I was telling her about our issues, and she was almost laughing at me, saying that I just need to throw them all together and let them "work it out". Now, everything I've read and everything I know says that this is the absolute WRONG thing to do because it only determines who will be the bully and who will be harassed for the rest of their days. Am I wrong I wrong in this? Mind you, after she told me this, she also added that she's had to separate her cats on many occasions because of fighting and one cat she permanently left outside because indoor cats were harassing her so much that she didn't feel safe leaving this other cat in the house. SOoooooo... honestly, am I crazy? Also, it's been 3 months, should we be further along by now? We're still doing the screen door feedings. Sometimes it's ok. Sometimes not.
 

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Hi! Welcome!!

Nope, you're not crazy :)!

You are going at Mochi's pace and respecting her emotional needs. How fantastic that she's giving you tail wraps!!

Personally, I'd suggest that you continue just as you have been. She's with you now, and safe, and you have time on your side to get them eventually commingled.

I'm so glad she has you!!
 

ArtNJ

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Three months is a really long time and cats can work through a lot on their own, but it all depends what you mean by bad run ins. If they are actually fighting, they may not be able to work that out on their own. Anything short of fighting, they can usually work towards toleration (at least) on their own.

The whole idea of an intro process is to get the cats used to each step before going on to the next step. So if they are having accidental face-to-face encounters with no barrier and you can't stop those, I think it mostly defeats the purpose and your co-worker might be right. Unless they are actually fighting.
 

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Hi. Glad your co-worker's approach has worked for her - hoped it has actually worked for her cats as well. You don't know Mochi's background enough to NOT take it as slow as you have to in order for her to feel she now has a permanent home and become more comfortable with her surroundings - and, eventually your other cats. For all you know, she had issues with other cats in the past and part of her reaction is to that. Mochi is not only dealing with another new home, but also trying to deal with other cats that she may feel as if they are a threat to her. So, I would suggest you take it as slow as you have to so that you are not destroying your other cats' happiness and safety - as well as Mochi's. Don't know how bad the run-ins were, but fur flying or blood drawn is a definite "keep them separated for now" rule of thumb.

I don't know if there are any other tips in these TCS articles, but will share the links with you just in case.
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – Cat Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles
Why Do Cats Attack? – Cat Articles
Introducing Cats To Cats – Cat Articles
 

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Sorry things are going so slowly with your cat introductions. I've never personally introduced cats, but have read many threads here at TCS, and you are not alone in having a LONG introduction process.

Here are links to just a few ongoing cat introductions that, though may not help with your situation, but will let you see you're not alone in your struggles.

I Have More Trust Issues Than This Feral..
Lilah the poophead kitty
Need Advice On How To Progress Cat Introduction! New Cat, 2 Resident Cats

:goodluck:
 
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Jen2massage

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Hi! Welcome!!

Nope, you're not crazy :)!

You are going at Mochi's pace and respecting her emotional needs. How fantastic that she's giving you tail wraps!!

Personally, I'd suggest that you continue just as you have been. She's with you now, and safe, and you have time on your side to get them eventually commingled.

I'm so glad she has you!!
Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement 😊
 
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Jen2massage

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Three months is a really long time and cats can work through a lot on their own, but it all depends what you mean by bad run ins. If they are actually fighting, they may not be able to work that out on their own. Anything short of fighting, they can usually work towards toleration (at least) on their own.

The whole idea of an intro process is to get the cats used to each step before going on to the next step. So if they are having accidental face-to-face encounters with no barrier and you can't stop those, I think it mostly defeats the purpose and your co-worker might be right. Unless they are actually fighting.
Thanks for the reply! Do you really think it’s a long time to introduce adult cats? I know some can adapt pretty quickly, but from what I understand, adults take longer.. especially when we have 3 totally different personalities. And considering Mochis past. With the attacks.. so Mochi has gotten out a few times. And I have let her had run of the house, supervised, with my semi-feral. Sherbert has a strong personality, and shes “been through some stuff” in her past. For the most part she can handle herself. So i figured she’s a good one to start with for face to face encounters. Sherbert just hangs out, watching but mostly uninterested. Mochi has charged at her, attacked, runs off, then comes back a few minutes later for round 2. She doesn’t stop until she gets her hit in. After the first one I sat right next to Sherbert, face to face. I wanted to see if Mochi would attack with me there, since I’m a “positive”. Well, I may as well have not even been there! She still charged! But I was able to put my arm out and stop her. If we’re doing a screen door feeding and all seems well, Kubo has approached the door way, and Mochi has charged at him. Attacking if she could! So obviously this makes Sherbert and Kubo scared and want nothing to do with her. But, when this happens we take some steps back. And again, taking it all very slow
 

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Do you really think it’s a long time to introduce adult cats?
As Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 has said, you can only go as fast/slow as the slowest cat. If that's three weeks, three months or longer, that's how long it will take. Every cat is different and has a different backstory :)
 

Mamanyt1953

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Every one of us who have been here for some time can tell you stories of successful introductions that took as much as a YEAR to complete! With Mochi, she has had her territory ripped out from under her SEVERAL times now. Little wonder she is still very territorial, and probably will be for a while longer, poor mite. To a cat, territory is literally life or death, and to lose it over and over is to lose your sense of safety and self. She's going to take a lot of time and patience.

One thing you do need to begin doing fairly soon is putting the resident cats in Mochi's room for part of the day, while she is out exploring the rest of the house. This will be tremendous in building her confidence, and since smell is such a huge part of territory, it also mingles the scents of ALL of the cats EVERYWHERE, giving them a "this is OURS" feeling.

What do you consider "a bad run-in?" I can tell you right now, if there is no fur in the air, and no blood on the floor, it is NOT a cat fight, or a bad run-in!" And sometimes a cat's gotta say what a cat's gotta say. THOSE "discussions" can be loud and terrifying to humans, but it is just "sound and fury." Or "sound and furry," if you prefer. They are figuring out the boundaries, letting each other know what's what. Watch their body language carefully, and be ready to move in an actual attack. I suggest either a big piece of cardboard or a big pillow that you can slip between two battling pussycats, and use to herd one of them away.
 
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Jen2massage

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Sorry things are going so slowly with your cat introductions. I've never personally introduced cats, but have read many threads here at TCS, and you are not alone in having a LONG introduction process.

Here are links to just a few ongoing cat introductions that, though may not help with your situation, but will let you see you're not alone in your struggles.

I Have More Trust Issues Than This Feral..
Lilah the poophead kitty
Need Advice On How To Progress Cat Introduction! New Cat, 2 Resident Cats

:goodluck:
Thank you for the response, and the articles! I just got home from work so will get to reading them shortly. :)
 
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Jen2massage

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Every one of us who have been here for some time can tell you stories of successful introductions that took as much as a YEAR to complete! With Mochi, she has had her territory ripped out from under her SEVERAL times now. Little wonder she is still very territorial, and probably will be for a while longer, poor mite. To a cat, territory is literally life or death, and to lose it over and over is to lose your sense of safety and self. She's going to take a lot of time and patience.

One thing you do need to begin doing fairly soon is putting the resident cats in Mochi's room for part of the day, while she is out exploring the rest of the house. This will be tremendous in building her confidence, and since smell is such a huge part of territory, it also mingles the scents of ALL of the cats EVERYWHERE, giving them a "this is OURS" feeling.

What do you consider "a bad run-in?" I can tell you right now, if there is no fur in the air, and no blood on the floor, it is NOT a cat fight, or a bad run-in!" And sometimes a cat's gotta say what a cat's gotta say. THOSE "discussions" can be loud and terrifying to humans, but it is just "sound and fury." Or "sound and furry," if you prefer. They are figuring out the boundaries, letting each other know what's what. Watch their body language carefully, and be ready to move in an actual attack. I suggest either a big piece of cardboard or a big pillow that you can slip between two battling pussycats, and use to herd one of them away.
This has got to be the best and most detailed/specific response I've heard. Thank you Thank you Thank you. I actually have the resident cats in the bedroom right now, (the master. Not Mochis room. Though I agree we need to do that. We've done that, though t's been a while.) Mochi gets free run of the house for at least 2 hours a day.
I left one example of one of the run-ins in my response to ArtNJ. That was the latest example from when I let Mochi roam free in the house (supervised of course), with Sherbert, the semi-feral. Sherbert has a much stronger personality and can mostly fend for herself, given her own history. Briefly, Mochi charges in to attack, for seemingly no reason, other than territory, runs off, then comes back a few minutes later for round 2. She'll do this even if I'm right next to Sherbert, it's like I"m not even there. I'm learning Mochis body language and was able to fend off the 2nd attack.
She had one pretty bad run in with Kubo early on when she got out in the middle of the night. I didn't see it all because it was dark. But, Mochi attacked Kubo at the top of the staircase, and yes, fur flying, screaming, tumbling down the stairs as Kubo tried to get away and Mochi chased after him. It was bad. Though no blood, surprisingly. He was shaken up for quite some time after that. You could see the fear in his eyes. He started walking very slowing around the house, afraid to make any quick movements. It was so depressing to see. They haven't had any close encounters since then (the stair example was very early on). Since then Kubo has definitely shown curiosity! For me, a huge win would be to see him walk right up to the screen door with Mochi knowing full well that he's there, and I can keep her occupied with play. That would be HUGE!
 
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Jen2massage

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As Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 has said, you can only go as fast/slow as the slowest cat. If that's three weeks, three months or longer, that's how long it will take. Every cat is different and has a different backstory :)
I agree. They are all SO different. Though I have to say, it's exhausting!!! But it is getting easier, on my part.
 
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Jen2massage

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Hi. Glad your co-worker's approach has worked for her - hoped it has actually worked for her cats as well. You don't know Mochi's background enough to NOT take it as slow as you have to in order for her to feel she now has a permanent home and become more comfortable with her surroundings - and, eventually your other cats. For all you know, she had issues with other cats in the past and part of her reaction is to that. Mochi is not only dealing with another new home, but also trying to deal with other cats that she may feel as if they are a threat to her. So, I would suggest you take it as slow as you have to so that you are not destroying your other cats' happiness and safety - as well as Mochi's. Don't know how bad the run-ins were, but fur flying or blood drawn is a definite "keep them separated for now" rule of thumb.

I don't know if there are any other tips in these TCS articles, but will share the links with you just in case.
How To Fix An Unsuccessful Cat Introduction – Cat Articles
How To Successfully Introduce Cats: The Ultimate Guide – Cat Articles
Why Do Cats Attack? – Cat Articles
Introducing Cats To Cats – Cat Articles
Thank you! And that's the thing.. after talking to her, and knowing her for awhile now, I know that her household isn't exactly peaceful. She thinks that the fighting and swatting is just normal. She's never properly introduced any of her cats. Just throws them together and let whatever happens happen. If one doesn't work out, she just lets it outside and that's where it stays. In my opinion, that's not "working" For me, this is not normal. I have never had to separate the current two. I would be absolutely shocked if I ever caught them fighting. Its just not in them. So this cat drama is all new to me! And that you for the articles! I've been at work all day but I have lots of reading to catch up on. :)
 

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Sorry things are going so slowly with your cat introductions. I've never personally introduced cats, but have read many threads here at TCS, and you are not alone in having a LONG introduction process.

Here are links to just a few ongoing cat introductions that, though may not help with your situation, but will let you see you're not alone in your struggles.

I Have More Trust Issues Than This Feral..
Lilah the poophead kitty
Need Advice On How To Progress Cat Introduction! New Cat, 2 Resident Cats

:goodluck:
Yep! Been going on a year+ with 3 of mine (I have, like... a lot of cats right now 😆). Most of our cats are fine in after about a month or so of introductions, and others just sailed right on through the process and were fast friends.

But those three... man, it’s been rough.

OP, you are completely right about your friend! Trust your (educated) instincts! Most rescues won’t even foster to people who just throw cats together like that (other than with young kittens).

Hardly any of my cats actually like each other, but they coexist perfectly fine. Some hissing and swatting from time to time if personal spaces are breached, but I have never once had to separate them. That is not normal for cats who have supposedly “worked it out”.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Occasional swatting is normal, but...what you're describing in your friend's house is NOT, and what YOU are doing will lower the chances of ending up with an armed truce (with occasional guerrilla attacks) significantly. They may never be "Best Buds," but I think that will more time, they WILL be peaceful companions...with an occasional quick swat when someone forgets their place!
 
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Jen2massage

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Occasional swatting is normal, but...what you're describing in your friend's house is NOT, and what YOU are doing will lower the chances of ending up with an armed truce (with occasional guerrilla attacks) significantly. They may never be "Best Buds," but I think that will more time, they WILL be peaceful companions...with an occasional quick swat when someone forgets their place!
Thank you! I agree. The two resident cats will give a hiss now and again, and my girl lets the boy (who's younger) know when she's had enough. But there has NEVER been a fight or even swatting. Never. My Sherbert and Kubo are so sweet and so chill... my boyfriend was thinking that because of this, the new cat would just adapt to their level of peacefulness. Ha! Not so much. And again, I always have to remind myself that Mochi hasn't had the best past. I tell myself very often as she's experiencing new things, that this is probably a first for her! This morning I had them take turns in our kitty tent. I"m pretty sure that was Mochis first experience being outside while not in a carrier. (that's Kubo and Sherbert. Mochis picture isn't loading for some reason) :) IMG_3430.JPG
 
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Jen2massage

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Yep! Been going on a year+ with 3 of mine (I have, like... a lot of cats right now 😆). Most of our cats are fine in after about a month or so of introductions, and others just sailed right on through the process and were fast friends.

But those three... man, it’s been rough.

OP, you are completely right about your friend! Trust your (educated) instincts! Most rescues won’t even foster to people who just throw cats together like that (other than with young kittens).

Hardly any of my cats actually like each other, but they coexist perfectly fine. Some hissing and swatting from time to time if personal spaces are breached, but I have never once had to separate them. That is not normal for cats who have supposedly “worked it out”.
Thank you. I have to say, being able to share and get advice and support from this group has been a great help! Us cat moms need each other! :) Keep up the good work.
 

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Thank you! I agree. The two resident cats will give a hiss now and again, and my girl lets the boy (who's younger) know when she's had enough. But there has NEVER been a fight or even swatting. Never. My Sherbert and Kubo are so sweet and so chill... my boyfriend was thinking that because of this, the new cat would just adapt to their level of peacefulness. Ha! Not so much. And again, I always have to remind myself that Mochi hasn't had the best past. I tell myself very often as she's experiencing new things, that this is probably a first for her! This morning I had them take turns in our kitty tent. I"m pretty sure that was Mochis first experience being outside while not in a carrier. (that's Kubo and Sherbert. Mochis picture isn't loading for some reason) :) View attachment 315073
Hi there! I was just reading your thread, looking for ideas because we are in the process of an intro as well - and I saw this picture. I have to ask: where did you get the awesome tent? Do you have a link/website, etc? That looks great for letting the kitties enjoy the outdoors and keeping them safe as well.
 

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Thank you! I agree. The two resident cats will give a hiss now and again, and my girl lets the boy (who's younger) know when she's had enough. But there has NEVER been a fight or even swatting. Never. My Sherbert and Kubo are so sweet and so chill... my boyfriend was thinking that because of this, the new cat would just adapt to their level of peacefulness. Ha! Not so much. And again, I always have to remind myself that Mochi hasn't had the best past. I tell myself very often as she's experiencing new things, that this is probably a first for her! This morning I had them take turns in our kitty tent. I"m pretty sure that was Mochis first experience being outside while not in a carrier. (that's Kubo and Sherbert. Mochis picture isn't loading for some reason) :) View attachment 315073
Well clearly you are a very considerate and responsible owner with a tent like that!

We recently finally bought a small enclosure for our porch for the kitties for Christmas (we had plans to build one but haven’t managed to get our yard successfully leveled yet). I can’t wait to get it outside and have the kitties have access to more fresh air than the windows alone allow!

Unfortunately that’ll have to wait a bit longer though, as there’s some contagion going through the house right now, so we actually had to construct it in our dining room for an extra isolation space :lol:

1FF28E76-53D6-4B50-AB6C-E45D4B98A1CF.jpeg


866D4A0B-BB61-4777-ABBC-CED5D6B17C46.jpeg


I know introductions can be so frustrating, but they are obviously in good hands :) I’ve definitely had many cats and fosters take months to acclimate. And my boyfriend tends to make assumptions similar to yours about cat intros. Sometimes he’s right, but other times, not so much 😆

Just be sure to utilize vertical space to the best of your ability, follow the one litterbox per cat + 1 rule (at least at first - you can revisit this based on how well they ultimately end up getting on later and their individual potty needs/habits), ensure each cat has their own food bowl, and preferably water bowl too (water is something you can also reconsider once everyone is established and settled).

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Jackson Galaxy (very reputable cat behaviorist) and his show, My Cat From Hell - the two primary issues he deals with are inappropriate elimination and disharmony between cats/proper (re-)introductions.

His show is really entertaining and educational so I do highly recommend it, but if you don’t have time for full episodes, he also has a blog, Facebook, and YouTube channel with essentially a condensed version of the same information in My Cat From Hell.
 
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